Take the word back to its ancient linguistic forefathers and it means “to see clearly” to be able to say “I know”.
In this busy world with so many paths to take, so many important and urgent tasks to prioritize, it would be nice to have vision at times. To be able to see clearly the path ahead. To be able to say “I know” what is coming.
In ancient thought it was the gods who gave vision (often in the nature of dreams) to people they desired to bless. But often those so blessed couldn’t understand the vision they were given.
King Nebuchadnezzar was such a man. The vision was clear in one respect—he knew exactly what he had seen…he just didn’t know what it meant.
So he called in the wise men. Those trained and appointed to tell him the meaning of what he had seen.
“We need you to tell us the dream before we can interpret it,” they said.
King Nebuchadnezzar was enraged—due partly, I suppose, to his restless night.
He ordered the execution of all his wise men.
If you received the news the King was going to execute you, how would you feel? Fearful, depressed, mad at the unfairness? When Daniel heard the news he was not troubled. He had a knowledge, a vision, in his heart of how to resolve the situation.
We can follow the pattern Daniel sets for us in Daniel 2 to gain vision for problems in our lives. So what, exactly, did Daniel do when faced with imminent death?
Take Some Time
When a problem is pressing on us and needs an immediate solution rational thought sometimes flies out the window. Space is needed to step back and review the situation, rally help and energy and strength.
The first thing Daniel did was ask the King for time.
Unite with Righteous Friends
There is power in unity. Centuries after Daniel confronted this situation, Jesus would teach “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20)
There was no reason God should tell them what the King had dreamed…no reason except he was a merciful being. Take the word ‘mercy’ back to the church latin and we find it has to do with showing kindness to the helpless.
Daniel and his fellows were helpless—knowing the King’s ‘matter’ was out of their control—yet they knew that the God of Israel looked with kindness on his people.
I don’t know about you, but when I am faced with a need for vision in a situation beyond my control, I am more apt to pray for ‘fairness’ or ‘justice’.
Daniel and his friends remind me of God’s divine nature–they remembered his unchanging character (that he was kind and merciful to them that love him see Exodus 20:6) and prayed accordingly.
Sleep On It
He slept on the matter.
Sleep defragments the soul. Restores energy and power reserves. Allows the subconscious to bring to the conscious mind answers.
God can answer prayer in many ways—through impressions, scripture, people. In this instance he chose to answer through a dream. He sent Daniel the same dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had received. But he also sent Daniel the interpretation.
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king ” (Daniel 2:21-23 NIV).
Apply the Answer
Daniel had followed the pattern the prophets before him had followed to obtain vision from the Lord: he had taken time, gathered righteous support and asked God for mercy.
Now that he had his answer it was time to visit the King. Daniel told the King both the dream and interpretation. King Nebuchadnezzar decided not to execute his wise men after all.
Why did Daniel receive the interpretation of the dream and not King Nebuchadnezzar?
What child would you find it easiest to talk to—one who is glued to the latest electronic gadget and hardly is around you long enough to say ten words in a day, or a child who spends time with you, obeys the rules of the house and does the chores assigned him?
King Nebuchadnezzar was like the first child…his mind was so preoccupied with his own importance, his gods, his fun, his power, that he could not hear his Father’s voice when he spoke so gently to his heart. Since words weren’t working, the Father sent pictures in the King’s dreams. A picture speaks a thousand words, the old saying goes.
Daniel was like the second child—always willing to honour his Father’s wishes, receive his counsel, and live his precepts. It was easy for him to hear his Father’s voice. He could receive both text and images.
Do you desire a vision about some aspect of your life? Why not try following the pattern Daniel has given us: Take some time, Unite with righteous friends, ask, sleep on it, rejoice and give thanks when the answer comes, and take action.
If you’ve had success following Daniel’s example please comment below.
Each Sunday I post a short devotional. This September (due to my participation in the Daniel Fast) I’m exploring what it means to have a ‘Daniel Heart’.